The Parent Trap is all fun and games until somebody gets stabbed to death. A California prosecutor admitted last week that he charged the wrong twin brother of murder. So now he's charging the other one. That will be loads of family fun when the other one points the finger at the first.
When reached for comment, Michael Caine said, "The Prestige, bitches."
Don't underestimate the problems twins can cause for law enforcement just because the "evil twin" scenario is a convenient refuge for bad script writers. A San Jose State student was stabbed to death at a party, but the twin thing could help his alleged killer go free.
Prosecutors initially charged 18-year-old Duc Tong with the murder of Richard Phan. Phan was stabbed to death at a birthday party in Piedmont Hills. But last week, Deputy Santa Clara District Attorney Dan Fehderau dropped the charges against Duc Tong and instead charged his twin brother, Anh Tong, with the murder.
As if to justify their initial confusion, Duc Tong is still being held, only now he is charged with aiding and abetting his brother after the fact. Please tell me that the police weren't confused by the "OMG, I was totally seen shopping at Target when the crime was committed" ruse. This is the kind of prosecutorial reaction one would expect from Chris Christie.
Right now, authorities don't even seem to know what kind of twins the Tongs are. Police claim they are identical twins, the DA says they are fraternal twins.
Fehderau wants us to think that this is just all very good police work by San Jose police. He tells the San Francisco Chronicle: "This is an example of police keeping an open mind, basically going through their investigation and trying to get it right."
In reality, we're looking at a Keystone Cops kind of error that could have significant legal consequences:
Legal expert Steve Clark, a former prosecutor who now works as a defense attorney, said Wednesday that the case underscored the challenges inherent when twins are accused of a crime.
"It makes it extremely difficult and can lead to a lot of confusion and finger-pointing," Clark said. "If the DA gets it wrong the first time, the defense is going to argue, 'Well, who's to say they got it right the next time?' "
The burden will be on the prosecution to prove that one twin, and not the other, committed this crime. Just like in the movies, the fact that prosecutors initially charged the wrong twin could create reasonable doubt.
You want to know why this type of thing doesn't happen very often? It's because prosecutors are supposed to keep an "open mind" about their theory of the case before they start charging people. When people get off on legal "technicalities" like evil twin syndrome, there's usually a bumbling prosecutor behind the scenes.